Welwyn claim thrilling win over Hitchin

Phil Grehan was among the try scorers as Welwyn beat Hitchin

Phil Grehan was among the try scorers as Welwyn beat Hitchin - Credit: Danny Loo

Welwyn beat fellow top six league contenders Hitchin 39-28 in a thrilling London Three North West match on Saturday enjoyed by a large crowd in beautiful conditions. 

The hosts established a healthy first-half lead, but the visitors kept the crowd on their toes, as they clawed their way back into the game and took a narrow lead with only 20 minutes left to play. 

The win also secured Welwyn a place in the Hertfordshire Tankard final at Harpenden on April 30, where they will take on Cheshunt.

Hitchin were first on the scoreboard with a straightforward penalty after five minutes. 

But Welwyn replied with a well-worked try after 12 minutes as prop Will Freeston turned up in midfield and a well-timed pass to centre Vetaia Kawea allowed him to touch down in the corner. 

Three minutes later, Welwyn scored again with a trademark score from Phil Grehan, who ghosted through a half gap to score close to the posts. Chris Kemp added the extras.

Hitchin responded well, however, and evergreen centre Ian Crompton stepped past three would-be tacklers for a converted try.

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On the half hour, Chris Kemp stretched Welwyn’s lead to 15-10 with a penalty and on the stroke of half time, a lovely break by Kawea created space for fellow Fijian, Jo Nasaucoko, to score close to the posts. 

Kemp’s successful conversion saw Welwyn take a 22-10 lead into the break.

Hitchin started the second half as they did the first with a penalty from in front of the posts. 

Crompton then came to the visitors’ rescue with an outstanding cover tackle on powerful prop Dan Comben five metres from the line. 

From the resulting scrum, however, Welwyn drove Hitchin off the ball and number eight Tom Attfield touched down for the bonus-point try which stretched the lead to 27-13.

Hitchin responded well with an unconverted try in the corner, followed by another penalty from in front of the posts as Welwyn were caught offside. 

And a third try for the visitors was converted to give them a 28-27 lead with 20 minutes left.

Hitchin then received a yellow card and Welwyn emptied their bench with Matt Gray and Jack Lacey bringing fresh legs to the contest. 

A rejuvenated side finished strongly with further tries from Freeston and Nasaucoko with Kemp signing off with a flourish by converting from the touchline.

Welwyn travel to St Albans on Saturday for the final league game of the season and will be keeping half an eye on the score from Finchley where they will be hoping Hendon can somehow snatch a win against the leaders.